Recently, Husband had a work trip in Florida. He asked me if I wanted to go with him to Fort Myers and it was February and I’m not stupid so I said yes.
While he did work stuff, I took a little road trip to Miami to see a dear friend of mine who now lives there. She is a Bikramite but had not practiced in a while, since she was expecting her cutie-pie son. He was 9-weeks old and Mama needed the hot room. I was honored to be able to go with her to her first class back.
Understandably, she was nervous about returning to yoga. She wondered if anyone would remember her (they did) and if she would spend the whole class crying on the floor (she didn’t). But I was nervous, too. I always get nervous before travel yoga. I was anxious about what the room/teacher/students/temperature would be like.
This is the paragraph where I explain what all the problems were. Like, it was vacation yoga and I had been eating vacation food (fried artichoke and goat cheese po’boy, anyone?) and I’m not used to practicing that late in the evening (we were doing our first sit up around the time that I usually go to bed) and I had cramps and it’s really humid in Florida and …yeah.
I can come up with a lot of reasons why it wasn’t totally my fault that the woman who was still recovering from a c-section was pretty much kicking my ass.
But I realized during the second set of bow pose I had to take my own advice and sit down before I passed out.
Doing yoga in Miami is a little different than in Virginia. It was just a little…showier. There were modified breasts and rippling abs. Even in February there were a lot of tans. So, I had to dig extra deep into my pasty white soul to feel good about collapsing on my mat while everyone else locked out their knees.
I looked in the mirror, attempting to sit stoically. That annoying little part of me that wanted my friend/the teacher/Miss Boob Job to think I was a great yogi: that’s all just ego. That’s not helpful to me or anyone. This is the practice. But still, it flared up and tested me.
So, looked at that reflection of myself – an exhausted, wrung-out yogi on the floor – and tried to be kind. I tried to be present and breathe. Eventually, I got off the floor and back to the postures.
And when class was over I was so proud of my brave friend. As we walked to Publix and bought Coconut waters and cut up watermelon, she said she had been struck by the teacher’s comment that the mirror was “for alignment, not for judgement” and how she was grateful for the freedom to remove self-criticism completely.
I nodded, and it occurred to me for the first time that it’s not just alignment of your hips, it’s about alignment with the truth. Alignment with the moment. Alignment with your authentic self. Alignment with what is possible, and not possible, that day.
And then my friend got teary-eyed and said that even though class was hard, it was the first time in a long while that she had just taken a deep breath.
And she reminded me what this whole thing is about.
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